CBD Oil for Kids with Autism

CBD oil is becoming popular lately, with several claims of it being miraculous. While it has anecdotally been shown to do wonders for a variety of conditions and ailments, special attention has recently been paid to what it can do for those who have autism.

If you are the parent of a child with autism, it is nearly impossible to ignore what many people claim CBD oil is capable of doing. Even if you have not fully invested in believing the claims, the possibility that it could help your child in any way is likely very interesting to you.

Using CBD products is widely considered an effective treatment for depression, seizures, and anxiety. It is also believed to help alleviate several other symptoms, such as general pain, inflammation, sleeplessness, and acne.

However, for those who have children with autism, the real question remains “Can CBD oil do anything to help my child with autism?”

What exactly is CBD Oil?

Before deciding whether or not you want to try CBD oil with your child, you need to have a real understanding of what it is, where it comes from, and what it does.

One cannabis plant creates thousands of compounds; however, the most well-known of the compounds are cannabinoids. There are a variety of cannabinoids. The two that most people know are THC, which is tetrahydrocannabinol, and CBD, which is cannabidiol.

CBD does not produce the same effects as THC. It is considered a non-psychoactive compound, which means that it does not create intoxication in users.  It does not get the user high, which is what happens when someone consumes THC.

Many parents have considered using medical marijuana for their children with autism. However, CBD oil can be an alternative to that idea, given that it does not have that same intoxicating effect.

There are other terms with which you should be familiar if you are considering trying CBD oil with your child. For example, you might often hear CBD oil referred to as hemp oil. CBD is extracted from cannabis plants. Hemp is one of the plants from which CBD may be extracted.  Most of the time, CBD oil that comes from hemp does not have THC in it. However, that is not always the case. So, if you are looking to avoid THC altogether, you may want to look at CBD oil and not hemp oil.

How is CBD oil ingested?

CDB oil can be ingested in a few different ways. It is often taken orally, through a dropper, pill form, baked into another consumable such as a brownie, smoked, or even vaped. It can even be consumed by eating gummies. Other options for ingesting CBD oil include a patch, creams, soaps, or beverages.

Which CBD oil is best?

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of CBD oils available. Make sure to choose something high-quality by finding out how the CBD oil you plan to purchase is processed and grown.

One way to do your research is to check testing results performed by third parties. These results are available through the CBD Oil companies themselves. If the CBD oil company you initially select cannot provide these types of results to you, you might want to consider using a different company. A reputable CBD oil provider will be able to give you third-party testing results. They will want to share them with you and will often invite you to look at the results without you ever having to ask to see them.

How can CBD Oil work for Autism?

When CBD oil is consumed, it enters the nervous system, brain and bloodstream right away. The endocannabinoid system gets signals from the cannabinoid as it enters the body.

When compared to neurotransmitters, the endocannabinoid system moves oppositely. It attaches to the receptors in the cannabinoid of neurons to send a message. Once attached, the cannabinoids have control over what takes place the next time the neuron is activated. This means that the cannabinoid can change what happens to the mind and body.

Endocannabinoids can regulate several things and systems within the body. They can regulate anxiety, hunger, pain, and excitability in neurons. They are also known for being effective in suppressing seizures. For those that believe CBD oil can help in treating autism, it is primarily due to the belief that CBD oil can bring order to the brain. For example, children with autism are often challenged when it comes to keeping their attention on one thing or being able to focus. CBD oil is believed to be helpful in this area.

The actual level of effect that CBD oil can have on a child or adult varies depending on the product used and the dosage amount. It can also depend on the way the CBD was consumed. When CBD is vaped or smoked, the effects are felt faster. Taking CBD in the form of an edible can take one or two hours to be digested while using a tincture can produce effects within 20 to 40 minutes. If using a cream, it can take an hour for the CBD to make its way into the bloodstream. However, using a cream can also produce effects that last for as long as 6 hours.

Dosing Amounts

There is not a standard daily allowance for CBD since the allowance would vary for every individual’s characteristics.  Your child’s doctor is likely the best person to talk to when it comes to figuring out the best dosage for your child, but only if the state or area allows the doctor to prescribe it.

While your child’s doctor is likely still the best person to give you dosing recommendations, keep in mind that CBD oil has never been taught in medical school, and still is not.

Most of the popular manufacturers of CBD oil will put a recommended serving size on the label of their product. However, this is hard to use consistently. The actual amount of CBD in each product differs. So, unless you always use the same manufacturer’s product, it might be hard to have the correct dosage.

There is one rule you can use consistently. Start with a small dose, and as you and your child become more comfortable with the product, you can start increasing the dosage. There are also charts you can follow that will give you an idea of how much dosage is ideal based on your child’s weight and severity of symptoms.

Be patient with finding the right dose for your child with ASD. Each child is different and will require their own dosage amount. Once you find it, you can treat it as a guide.

Efficacy in Treating Symptoms of Autism

If you are considering using CBD oil in your autistic children, make sure it has the possibility to work. There has not been enough research performed on children with autism. There is not a single study that validates the idea that cannabis is a realistic option in treating autism. There are plenty, however, that focus on the traditional treatment for autism, which is usually the use of antipsychotic drugs, which indicates that there is anecdotal evidence to suggest its success.

Children and adults with autism are faced with very few treatment options. No treatment option has shown to be successful. So, for many parents, CBD oil may seem like a favorable alternative. Any strategy or therapy that might help to alleviate some autism symptoms is worth the investment for many parents.

CBD has demonstrated success in treating several conditions that were otherwise untreatable, similar to how autism does not have a treatment that has been shown to work. The most well-known properties of CBD are anticonvulsant, neuroprotective, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory. It also has been shown to treat dependence, anxiety and depression through its therapeutic properties.

There have also been reports that CBD oil can be linked to declining aggressive behavior, better speech, and a decline in seizures. There is also hope for a decrease in repetitive behaviors and destructive behavior. There is even an account of autistic children who could not speak and then made a significant improvement in the area after using CBD oil.

The Legality of CBD Oil

CBD oil that is derived from help and has a level of THC less than 0.3% is legal throughout the country. If it has more than 0.3% THC in it, it is not considered hemp and therefore is not protected at all.

Although CBD oil derived from hemp is legal now, that does not mean it is not regulated. There are strict guidelines and oversight when it comes to who is allowed to grow hemp, where it can be grown and how its produced. Some regulations govern how much CBD or THC can be in the actual oil.

Lobbying for CBD Oil

While CBD is mostly legal, that does not mean it is accepted as a treatment for autism everywhere. However, even though the Food and Drug Administration does not endorse the use of CBD or any form of cannabis as a way to treat autism, the idea is gaining serious traction across the country.

There were at least six states that enacted legislation allowing marijuana use as a treatment for autism in 2018 alone. Two other states failed to pass legislation what would have included autism as a qualifying condition.

The six states that did pass legislation were Louisiana, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Delaware, Utah and Michigan. The two that failed were Colorado and Arizona. It looks like Texas is moving toward some kind of legislation permitting it while Colorado plans to try again.

While these states have either passed legislation or are in the process of doing so, several other states and areas are already planning on creating laws that allow cannabis use for the treatment of autism symptoms. These include Puerto Rico, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Oregon. There are others that lenient enough marijuana laws in place that doctors can prescribe marijuana for autism specifically. These include California, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.

Using CBD Oil for Epilepsy and Autism

Epilepsy is a well-known condition. However, it affects only 2% of the population. Nearly 33% of individuals with autism also have epilepsy. It is not fully understood why children with autism are more likely to have epilepsy. There are hypotheses, however. Many believe that it happens as a result of the different development of the brain that takes place in children with autism.

That different development may be linked to creating circuits within the brain that are known to produce epileptic seizures. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first plant-based cannabis drug. It was approved for use with two very difficult to treat forms of epilepsy. Those forms of childhood epilepsy are Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome. The drug, Epidiolex, is 98% CBD. The other two percent of the drug has been kept a secret. The drug has stronger controls and regulations than many other cannabis products you can buy.

What are the Side Effects?

Medical cannabis products are not effective for every child. Each child has different needs and will react differently. CBD oils do have some side effects, which will vary for each child. Some of the more common side effects include diarrhea and fatigue. Others include vomiting, nausea, lightheadedness, dry mouth and low blood pressure. Cannabis treatment, the way it looks and how it affects a child, will vary significantly for each child.

Because CBD has not been studied extensively yet, be mindful that you will not find an exhaustive list of potential side effects. If a clinical trial is not commonly performed, it is hard to know what to expect.

Proving the Benefits

Almost five years ago, there was a baseline study performed by the Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Review. That study stated that the research that the cannabis research previously performed did not give adequate information on the impact of cannabis on humans. Rather, the studies all focused on animals. That study ended by stating that the use of cannabis products should be done as a matter of last resort.

There still exists very little data on the subject given that most are reluctant to test on children who would suffer potential side effects. There are too many risks imbedded in performing a clinical trial or study on children.

Some studies performed on adults with ASD do show an improvement in anxiety, disruptive behaviors, and communication. One neurologist who works with children in Israel started research very recently with 60 children who are on the autism spectrum. Some early data has been released. Results from the data from the neurologist state that 1-2 uses of CBD oil seem to alleviate some symptoms in children. Reports from caregivers showed improvement in sleep disorders, texture and food tolerances, seizures, and sensory challenges.

Where to Buy CBD Oil

You are not likely to find any company or manufacturer who markets their CBD oil for autism specifically. Without the backing of the FDA, companies are not allowed to say that their product will treat your child’s autism.

So, when looking for CBD oil, you will need to do your own investigation. Make sure you are choosing a company that has a strong reputation and offers a high-quality product. Reviews and third-party testing results are also helpful references.

There are different blends from which you can choose with many manufacturers, as well. Some of these are geared toward consumption in the morning while others are best used at night. The nighttime version may have something in them that helps with sleeping, such as lavender oil or melatonin. Be sure you are aware of all ingredients.


There seems to be a long way to go before we know the actual benefits or side effects of using CBD oil for kids with autism. However, for parents who are struggling with children who have ASD, the anecdotal evidence that is seemingly widespread can be an attractive alternative or addition to the more traditional treatment options. If those more traditional avenues are not working effectively or enough, many parents will seek out any other way to help their child better handle the world around them.

CBD oil may be the answer for many children and their parents. There is still plenty of research to be done and even more lobbying for approval. However, if CBD oil proves to be as helpful as initial reports suggest, it could be an effective way of handling and treating many of the symptoms associated with autism.

Susan Lindeman

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